Immunotherapy - the answer we're looking for?

Immunotherapy - the answer we’re looking for?

Immunotherapy - the answer we’re looking for? Hi all,

I watched a news segment on TV about this recently and wondered if anyone could she any more light on it for me.
It sounds as though it MAY be a massive breakthrough in cancer fighting treatment although I know it’s early days. I feel quite hopeful about this one.

Does anyone know much more about it?

Thanks,
*pearly*

Just found this link incase anyone wants to know the basics about it.
cancersupportivecare.com/immunotherapy.html

What does anyone think about the idea?

*pearly*

A partial solution I wondered if the news story you heard about was this one:
sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060901112104.htm

I think that immunotherapy is definitely part of the solution. Herceptin, after all, is a type of immunotherapy with a very good ratio of side effects to benefits. I know that cancer researchers are also working on vaccines. The difficulty, though, is in picking the right targets: the TeGenero volunteers, after all, received something that was designed to be an immunotherapy drug, but was much more dangerous than expected.

Immunotherapy I am intrigued by this post as I have Crohn’s (as well as breast cancer) which is an auto-immune disease that affects my gastro-intestinal tract and I have ulcers and crypt abscesses which not only causes pain,severe diarrhoea and weight loss, but malnutrition. I was 5 stones when diagnosed, and now veer from 7 stones to 8.

When I read articles in daily newspapers about boosting one’s immune system, I just wonder where am I? Mine is overactive, so what do I do? I need to suppress my immune system and there seems to be no be no factual knowledge out there. I have had this disease for some 35 yrs now, and my weight fluctuates violently when I am on steroids. Luckily my current gastro says steroids are now a no-no and we are trying to control my disease with methotrexate, an immuno-suppressant, which has severe side effects, particularly toxic to the liver.

However, I am very concerned about mtx , as is my gastro in the context of previous bc - it was used as a chemo for breast cancer some years ago, and as I was on mtx for some 4 yrs before I got breast cancer, I wonder if I am I immune to it, or did it only work for my Crohn’s but cause bc? My gastro can’t give me any answers, and I don’t see an Oncologist anymore. Not that I would give him any credence as he hasn’t a clue about Crohn’s, isn’t interested, nor did my previous Oncologist.

I have recently researched this drug. mtx, and it seems it can actually cause bc, so I do wonder why it was used for bc treatment. I feel in a fog of bewildering information. I am still taking methotrexate, once a week as a self administered injection for Crohn’s, which is indeed controlling my diarrohea, but I do wonder if this drug has caused my bc problems. Aargh, just wish I had I a doctor that could give me some answers as to my immune problems, but guess we are a long way from that.

Living in hope,
Liz.

Methotrexate Hi Liz,

Like you I also have a long standing illness as well as BC. Was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthiritis 32 years ago when I was 23. Very severe form which has meant very intensive therapy and surgeries.

After my son was born 23 years ago the disease returned with a vengence and after a series of trial and error treatments commenced methotrexate 20 years ago. Was taking 15mgs weekly, latterly by injection, though had been on oral previously. It was a godsend and although I now know that it may have contributed to my BC, don’t think life would have been worth living without it.

Crohns and RA are both auto immune disease and treatments are very similar. I take steroids daily and have done so for 20+ years plus infusions and longer courses when required.

Have been off metho since starting chemo. Had my final EC of 6 on Tuesday. Saw my Rheumatologist and Onc and they are currently working on my treatment regime. Luckily my Onc is more sympathetic regarding my RA as your’s is not. Will probably be going back on the
metho later this year.

My RA has been okay on the chemo because of course it suppresses the immune system. Hope the effects last for a few more weeks.

I am currently doing some research and trying to find out more re. mtx.
Will keep you posted if I find anything of interest.

Best of luck.

Luv Pam

Hi guys,

This could be a very interesting discussion.

I knew Herceptin was based on the immunotherapies, just wasn’t sure what other drugs were being tested in this group. My personal interest was if they could be given as a preventative intervention or if it was only as a treatment postdiagnosis.

I’m 35,pre menopausal. I was diagnosed nearly 3 years ago with a small grage 2 tumour and lymphatic involvement. I am hoping that some day soon they will announce the use of such therapies to kill off existing cancer cells and prevent a reoccurance. Maybe that’s just a dream of mine?

With so much attention on these new therapies part of me thinks it’s just another drug company ploy for the promotion of their products.
BUT, I am as ever, ever hopeful - like most of us are, I think.

The methotrexate thing - you’ve gotta admit that half the drugs given to people these days cause subsequent side effects which then require something else to treat those side effects!!
If you see a specialist I’d throw the question at them. As a nurse I think they’d say you have to weigh up quality of life against risk of cancer returning. My bones are knackered from treatment and I looked into having my ovaries removed to decrease the possibility of my cancer returning. But, having them removed would worsen my bone status and make me an old woman at 35. It is a huge risk I’m taking I feel. But who knows - my cancer may never return and I may continue on and live a normal-ish life after all of this. Stranger things have happened… apparently.
As for oncolgists who are no good to man nor beast - get another one!!! This is your life, take the lead and find the specialist,trustworthy support you NEED. Accept nothing less.

Anyway, just my passing thoughts. Hopefully more info on this topic as it progresses. Please keep us all updated if anyone finds new info.

Keep well all of you.

Regards,

*pearly*

Probably a few years off I just checked the big clinical trials database that the US government puts together and it seems like vaccines are a few years off. All the trials were phase II (which means they are still testing to see if the vaccines are likely to work).

I only know about the her2 trials, but there is at least one that seems capable of halving recurrence in her2+++ patients with another really bad trait.

So, things will get better, but not right away and not for everyone all the same time.

Christine,

Don’t know about you but my tumour isn’t Her2+ but then again neither is the majority of Uk breast cancer patients’ tumours.
Seems there’s so much research going on for Her2 but I fail to hear much else,particularly for pre menopausal women ( which is my own personal bug bear )
Keep our ears to the ground and our eyes peeled I think.

*pearly*

Methotrexate and auto immune problems Hi Pam, thank you sincerely for replying to my post - at least you know what it is like to have an intractable disease, or as my gastro puts it, I have empirical problems. Had to look that up in a dictionary, and I thought I understood the English language. Everyone seems to know someone with cancer, but few have heard of Crohn’s which I have found more difficult to deal with than breast cancer.

I am so pleased to hear that mtx has been valid in assuaging your rheumatoid problems - I had severe hip pain recently, had 3 months of physio, and had a bone scan - turned out thankfully not to be bone mets, but rx arthritis in both hips, feet and hands.Seems it goes along with Crohn’s. I think this is a result of long term steroids, and am glad my gastro says he will not prescribe them any more for me. Has your rheumatoid doctor talked to you about Remicade (infliximab)? I have talked to my gastro on a number of occasions about this infusion, but he is loath to prescribe it, as I also have (what a pain in the neck I am!) severe psoriasis and he said the lesions will get worse. Some days I just want to go under the duvet and come out well. However, grateful I have survived 35 yrs of Crohn’s and 3 years of breast cancer.

I had an absolutely horrendous time on FEC chemo - my diarrhoea was so bad I was faecally incontinent in the street a couple of times, and couldn’t get 6 steps from my bed to the loo without messing.I lived on a hospital prescribed Frutijuice concoction for 4 months, with no solid foods, no thanks to my gastro, but the wonderful second Oncologist I saw - a young female GP who worked in the Oncology suite one morning a week. She put me on daily dexamethasone (not prednisolone) and thankfully I survived it all.

I don’t know what my future medication will be - am stable at the moment with 25 mg of methotrexate by weekly injections, and a daily dose of an antibiotic, Cipro, which is reducing the inflammation in my intestines. I figure Crohn’s will get me before breast cancer, so live in hope.
thank you again for your response - it made me feel a little less isolated.
Liz.

Kindred spirits Hi Liz,

Good to hear from you. I used to be a nurse many moons ago, so know what a dreadful disease Chrohn’s can be. You’ve had a really torrid time of it . What is the situation with the BC at the moment?

It is reassuring to talk to someone else who has auto immune disease along with the BC. When I was first diagnosed in April this year I posted to try to contact someone else with RA as well as BC but came up negative. However, RA and Crohn’s are closely related so perhaps we can share experiences.

I have been trying for the past 3 years to get on the anti TNF therapies, infliximab or the like but with no success. The drugs are given in Leeds only on trials basis and people with long standing disease are not a priority. When I saw my rheumatologist recently He told me that due to the BC I now have no chance at all as anti TNFs cannot be given within 10 years of a Ca rx.

He is now looking into possible treatment with a drug called rituximab which is a monoclonal antibody like herceptin. It has previously been used to treat lymphoma and is now used for severe RA as well. It is given in conjunction with methotrexate, so it looks like you and I are going to have to persevere with the metho.

I have been very fortunate in having no side effects from the methotrexate in 20 years, or at least ones that I’m aware of. Do you tolerate it well? Your dose is even higher than mine.

Having finished my chemo, I’m going to take a holiday next week. My hubby and I are going to Majorca for 2 weeks. Have rented an apartment overlooking the sea in the north of the island where it is quiet. We need a break after the trauma of the last 6 months.
Planning to get lots of fresh sea air, good food and regain some normality.

Then it’s on to the next phase of treatment. Start herceptin and exemestane when I get back. No rads due to RA.

Do take care. Keep smiling. Thinking of you.

Luv Pam

More than just her2 Hi Pearly,

There’s alot going on that’s not her2, it is just that I tend to follow the her2 stuff.

According to a very quick check: trials ongoing on the US (not that there is anything special about the US, it’s just easier to find the cancer trials registered there very quickly): Cancer vaccine trials for general solid tumors: 94 trials for solid tumor vaccines (only 9 still recruiting); Breast cancer overall: 59 trials in total, 31 still recruiting. Of the breast cancer vaccines, 20 are Her-2 breast cancer vaccines, 14 of which are still recruiting. As far as I can tell, the farthest cancer vaccine along is theratope, which is in stage III trials. Almost everything else is not nearly as far along.

There is more work going on to create more monoclonal antibodies, but also targeted inhibitors, such as Sutent, a kidney cancer drug that is being trialled against her2 negative breast cancer. Scientists are also working on making the poisonous stuff more targeted so it does less collateral damage.

Whoops! I just checked out theratope. It looks like it didn’t amount to much and the company that was supposed to be running the trial has a new lung-cancer product they are working on instead. Oh well, maybe one of the other ones will work.

Christine,

That’s really good info.
It’s all down to money with the drug companies and whatever’s likely to give them the highest gain with the smallest initial financial outlay. Sorry, I’m just so cynical and suspicious about drug companies.
But, the info IS still good news. I’m ever hopeful Christine. ( like most of us are, understandibly )
Keep in touch and please share any new research info if you come across it. ( from a purely selfish point of view I’d be interested in anything targeted towards pre menopausal with lymph node involvement )

Keep well Christine!

*pearly* x